Thursday, July 30, 2015

Agent Red (2000)

For security reasons the Russians want to return a dangerous US-developed virus the Soviets once stole from its rightful, mass-murdering creators. Because that’s the way you do this sort of thing, a US submarine commanded by a skipper on his last mission before retirement is to transport the virus to US shores. Alas, a group of terrorists have infiltrated the sub, murder the crew, and are planning to release the virus on New York via the sub’s missiles, all as part of their protest against weapons of mass destruction. Seriously.

Fortunately, two Americans have survived the attack, and now it is up to them – marine badass Captain Matt Hendricks (Dolph “What, I’m not playing a Russian!?” Lundgren) and his ex-and-soon-to-be-non-ex-again fiancée Lt. Dr. Linda Christian (Meilani Paul who is, to say it politely, the worst actor in a film full of horrible performances) – to save the day. Well, at least Matt’s carrying a rather convenient antidote to the horrible, horrible virus nobody actually understands (or so the film says) around.

Well, sort of beloved Swedish scientist and actor Dolph Lundgren has been in quite a few crap films, but among connoisseurs, this one is generally taken to be the absolute low point in his career, which says something given some of the films he put an appearance in. I mean, that means worse than the The Expendables films, after all.

Going by what the Internet tells me, the original state Agent Red was in when director Damian Lee delivered it was so bad, even producer Andrew Stevens wasn’t willing to put that one out, so, after some useless attempts by one Steve Latshaw to rescue the film without having to do any reshoots, he hired that well-known artist, Jim Wynorski for three days of hasty reshoots that resulted – if I can believe what I read – in 40 minutes of new footage. To nobody’s surprise this, as well as the film’s now rather humungous use of footage taken from slightly higher budget productions Stevens could cannibalize (in a way even I see the continuity errors, like the incredibly shrinking Dolph early on), does not for a very good, or even only a basically coherent film make. Indeed, even by the standards of cheap direct-to-video action the film makes little sense with its lack of coherence even when it comes to very basic things like the way the virus it is all about works on human beings. Needless to say, characterization and plot are rote, yet where other action movies of this type make up for that kind of deficiency with crazy ideas and fun nonsense, Agent Red drags its feet.

Sure, there is the large, large, absurdly large number of dumb one-liners, and sexual innuendo of the most painful type (example: “Ow!” – “That’s what you said the last time I put it in.”), and that’s good for a laugh now and then, but the film commits the most horrible sin a movie of its type can commit: it is just plain boring, with minute upon minute of guys in uniform just talking nonsense at each other, surprisingly little happening for something supposedly being an action film, and little in it that’s actually enjoyable.

What there is of actual action scenes is pretty bad too, thanks to the awesome directorial decision (probably one by Lee, not by Wynorski, who is bad and most probably hates his audience but isn’t quite this stupid a director) to film the action exclusively in shots so close to the actors you see as little of what is going on as if the film were shot in shaky-cam and lightning edit mode. It’s impressive in a way, if impressive means a horribly bad idea executed terribly. Sure, it’s probably an attempt to disguise that the interior of the submarine doesn’t look at all like the interior of a submarine but rather like that one badly lit warehouse set 99 percent of all cheap action movies are shot on, but you know what? It doesn’t work and makes the film a chore to watch, so one can’t say the attempt was successful.



Marty McKee said...

I have no trouble believing Wynorski shots 40 minutes in 3 days.

houseinrlyeh aka Denis said...

You've got a point there.